Germany elects 'anti-Trump' Steinmeier as new president
By Wang Lei

2017-02-12 21:43 GMT+8

7370km to Beijing

Billed as Germany's "anti-Trump," center-left former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Sunday as the new ceremonial head of state. 
The 61-year-old, who regularly polls as Germany's most popular politician, will represent the EU's top economy abroad and act as a kind of moral arbiter for the nation. 
His fellow Social Democrats (SPD) hope the appointment will boost their fortunes, just as their candidate Martin Schulz, the former European Parliament president, prepares to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in September's federal elections. 
Martin Schulz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) casts his vote during German presidential election at the Reichstag in Berlin on February 12, 2017. /CFP Photo
Before the election result was announced, Steinmeier was already expected to receive a large majority of votes after Merkel's conservatives, lacking a strong candidate of their own, agreed to back him to replace incumbent Joachim Gauck, 77, a former pastor from ex-communist East Germany. 
The parliamentary vote was held in Berlin's glass-domed Reichstag building by a 1,260-strong special Federal Assembly, made up of national lawmakers and electors sent from Germany's 16 states - among them deputies but also artists, writers, musicians and national football coach Joachim Loew.
Head coach of Germany's national football team, Joachim Loew (C) signs in a list next to Katrin Goering-Eckhardt (L) of the Green Party ahead of the German presidential election at the Reichstag in Berlin on February 12, 2017. /CFP Photo
With his snowy white hair, round glasses and dimpled smile, Steinmeier is one of Germany's best-known politicians, having twice served as top diplomat under Merkel for a total of seven years. 
Though the trained lawyer is usually measured in his speech, in the thick of last year's US election campaign Steinmeier labeled Donald Trump a "hate preacher." After the billionaire won the White House, Steinmeier predicted relations would get "more difficult" and said his staff were struggling to detect any "clear and coherent" foreign policy positions from Trump.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) presents Frank-Walter Steinmeier(L) as the ruling coalition's candidate for German president in Berlin on November 16, 2016. /CFP Photo
As Steinmeier prepares for his new post, which he assumes on March 19, he has vowed to serve as a "counterweight to the trend of boundless simplification," calling this approach "the best antidote to the populists." 
The Berliner Morgenpost newspaper judged that Steinmeier looks set to be "the anti-Trump president." 
 (Source: AFP)